Development plans take shape for area around Allianz Field — but cleanup comes first

Cleaning up around Allianz Field

Cleaning up around Allianz Field

In the shadow of Allianz Field is United Village, a vacant space surrounded by a chain-link fence.

“It’s very dirty as you can tell,” declares Maria Ruiz from St. Paul.

Right now, the 7.5-acre piece of land just off University Avenue is quiet and deserted. But city planners see much, much more.

“We see a much better future here that’s going to be coming from the Snelling Midway redevelopment,” explains Andrea Novak, a St. Paul Port Authority spokesperson.

The Metropolitan Council — the metro’s regional planning agency — recently approved a $652,000 grant to help fund an environmental cleanup on the site.  

RELATED: Neighborhood group ‘frustrated’ by lack of development around Allianz Field

The Port Authority hopes to start that work in the fall.

“We see that a lot,” Novak says. “There are industrial sites and that over time, contaminants build up over decades, over centuries. So we’re going to come in and clean it up so that the next generation can put this land to better use.”

The demolition of Big Top Liquors at Midway Shopping Center in September 2021 was just the start.

Novak says the land was once used as a rail car manufacturing facility and a location for a dry-cleaning establishment.  

She notes petroleum and other contaminants, now underground, will have to be cleaned up.

“We’re excited, but we’re also cautious,” says Wes Burdine, who owns the Black Hart of St. Paul, a bar across from the Allianz site. “It’s been five years, and we haven’t seen that much happen across the street.”

Burdine says he has high hopes for a city proposal to build a four-story office building with retail space and a 170-unit hotel that could generate 455 jobs.

RELATED: St. Paul redevelopment project in Midway neighborhood moves a step closer to reality

“We think it’s an amazing, vibrant community,” he explains. “We want to see the investment and the development that the light rail and the stadium said they were going to bring that.”

A sculpture garden and a playground are also part of the plan.

The Port Authority has received a total of nearly $2 million in grant money from the state, Ramsey County, and the Met Council.

A public hearing before the City Council is expected to take place in late August to early September, and the environmental cleanup could begin later in the fall.

Actual construction could start sometime in spring or summer 2025.

Ruiz, a Midway resident, says she hopes the development will be a good economic partner with Allianz Field.

“I think it would be helpful in bringing more work to the area, more opportunity,” she says. “Right now, I think it looks very empty with trash and things, so I think it will look nice and attract more people to the coffee shops and more family oriented.”